Issue: 53

Recent Paintings 
"Florence"       by Bill Hudson
"Battery Point Lighthouse"        by Bill Hudson
"So, what is casein?"
        by Bill Hudson
For all art shows, I found many benefits to including a label for each painting that gives the title of the work, some background on the origin of the painting, the medium, and the price. For example, my label for the top painting is:

"Old Town" Florence sits on the mouth of the Siuslaw River on the Pacific coast of central Oregon. For me it is a road trip "must stop" where I can enjoy the small port, its history, local art galleries, and the proximity to the Oregon Dunes which are seen in the background.
   Original Watercolor & Casein (Framed)           $ 1,495
These labels work well in keeping the interest of customers who have been drawn into my booth by the artwork alone. Browsers begin studying the paintings, then reading each label. The labels lead to great conversations initiated by the shoppers that often begin with, "So, what is casein?" Surprisingly, this question is typically asked by people who know and appreciate art such as art students, professional artists, jurors, and art instructors.
I enjoy answering the question because it sparks their interest in a beautiful medium that was used by many of our Old Masters and is now enjoying a rebirth. As I give a short history of casein, I point to my own paintings to show examples of the hidden capabilities of the medium.
Many famous artists including: J. W. M. Turner, William Blake, Samuel Palmer, John Ruskin, Arthur Melville, Thomas Moran, James McNeil Whistler, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Charles Burchfield, and John Marin, considered watercolor, gouache, and casein to be compatible, versatile water media well-suited for painting on paper.
Although watercolor and gouache both use gum arabic as the binder, I have a strong preference for using casein in lieu of gouache. Casein uses milk protein as the binder and is the oldest paint known, sometimes found with human milk in prehistoric cave drawings. Casein dries rapidly and is not re-activated readily. Unlike gouache, it can be painted over and not become soluble and bleed or blur.
Gouache, which is watercolor made opaque with large, concentrated pigments and a chalk-like additive, dries to a  "dusty" reflectance that is discernable from neighboring areas of transparent watercolor. Casein, however, has a creamy matte finish that appears to be identical to transparent watercolor. Casein can also be used for opaque applications or thinned for washes.
Casein was extremely popular for centuries and often used by the Old Masters for oil underpaintings because of its durability and quick drying time. Casein permits painters to rapidly lay in the composition before proceeding to the time consuming task of applying layer upon layer of oil glazes.

There are some disadvantages of casein. If applied in thick impasto layers, it becomes brittle. It should, therefore, be applied to rigid substrates or be applied in thin layers as with watercolors. Also, some colors can lighten or darken as they dry. Experience is required.
With the advent of acrylics and artificial polymers in the 1960's, casein began to lose its popularity. However, the unique beauty and versatility of this medium are being rediscovered by artists like myself and casein is now enjoying a resurgence.
Jack Richeson produces Shiva brand casein paints in tubes of approximately 35 colors that are available in art stores such as Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama, and Art Supply Warehouse.
In my June 2015 Newsletter "Aerial Perspective Using Casein," I discussed specific techniques using casein with transparent watercolor. That article, like all past Newsletters, is still available for reference on Just click "Newsletter," scroll down, and click the desired Newsletter. 


49th Watercolor West International Juried Exhibition
       Call for Entries. Online only. Deadline: June 29, 2017
       Juror: John Salminen.
       Approximately $20,000 Cash and Merchandise Awards.
       Entry Fee for 1-2 entries is $50 Members and $60 Non-Members.
       Only Transparent Watercolor
       Exhibition from: October 14-December 17, 201
       City of Brea Art Gallery, Brea, CA
       Visit for prospectus and information.

Upcoming Events
  • Indian Wells Arts Festival, Mar 31, Apr 1&2, 2017
  • Art Demonstration, Mid Valley Arts League, Sept 20, 2017 

Past Newsletters
Past Newsletters are listed chronologically by title in the Newsletter section of my website

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